When a college accepts your application, they will send you an award letter (also known as an offer letter). This will detail the amount of money a school is willing to give you in financial aid. If you think you didn’t get enough financial aid, you can appeal for more. Just to be clear, you cannot ask for more aid simply because you want it. You have to justify your appeal. If you have a good enough reason and if the school has the budget for it, they may agree to increase your financial aid package. At the most, the school will say no if they don’t have the budget. They won’t penalize.
Here’s what you need to know about appealing an award letter for more aid.
7 Steps To Appealing Your Award Letter For More Aid
Understanding how the appeal process works is the key to increasing your chances of a successful appeal.
Step 1 – Find out the school’s procedure for appealing aid
Every college has their own specific procedure for requesting additional funds. Some schools may require you to fill a form and submit supporting documentation. Others may require you or your family to write an appeal letter in addition to filling the form. It’s important that you follow the school’s instructions precisely so your appeal is not rejected.
Check the school’s website for information on how to file an appeal. If you can’t find the information on their site or you need any clarifications, call their financial aid office. Make a list of questions to ask before calling so you can get all the information you need. When you call the office, be sure to get the name and contact information of the person you speak to. This will make it easier to follow up instead of explaining your situation to a new person every time.
Step 2 – Assess your circumstances
As we said earlier, schools will only consider your appeal letter if you have good reason. Special circumstances that may merit additional financial aid include recent unemployment, reduced earnings, homelessness, or end of social security benefits. End of alimony payments or child support, losses due to a natural disaster, or unreimbursed medical and dental expenses may also qualify. Dependent students may be able to appeal if a parent dies or their parents separate or divorce. Ask the college financial aid office if your situation qualifies for appeal.
Step 3 – Fill in the school’s appeal forms
Appeal forms generally ask for details regarding your special circumstances and other information about your family’s financial situation. Fill in all the necessary details and make a note of the documents you need to submit.
Step 4 – Gather together the necessary documentation
You will need to submit relevant documentation supporting your appeal. This could include layoff notices, proof of unemployment benefits, divorce or death certificates, or medical bills. Depending on your special circumstances, you may also need to submit statements from a social worker, school faculty or police officer. Make sure you have all the documents ready before you submit your appeal.
Remember to make copies of all the documents to send with your appeal. You won’t get the documents back once you submit them.
Step 5 – Write an appeal letter
Most schools will ask for an appeal letter explaining your need for additional aid. How you word this letter is important. Keep the letter short but explicit. It should demonstrate your need without rambling. Limit it to one page or at the most two pages. Be specific about the dates and the financial impact of the special circumstances.
Step 6 – Submit your appeal form, letter, and documentation
You’ve filled in all the necessary information, it’s time to submit your appeal. You can submit your appeal by mail, electronically, or in person. Ask the school’s financial aid office about their preferred method. Also ask them about the time it will take them to review and process your appeal.
Make sure you submit your appeal before the deadline mentioned on your award letter.
Step 7 – Follow-up with the school’s financial aid office
If you don’t hear back from financial aid office in a week, call them to confirm receipt. If they have, ask them if they require any additional information to process the appeal. If they have received your request but haven’t looked into it yet, don’t badger them. They may be backed up with requests and other admission formalities. Urging them to hurry up will do nothing to help your case.
Important Things to Keep In Mind When Appealing an Award Letter
For the best chance of getting more financial aid, make sure you first find out the school’s policies and appeal process. Approaching them the right way shows that you respect their process and they will appreciate it.
Submit your financial aid appeal as soon as possible after you receive your award letter. This will put you high on the list in case any new money becomes available. Funds usually become available when other students decline their offers. These extra funds are then distributed on a first come first served basis and can get over quickly.
Maintain a polite and friendly tone in your letter and when you speak to the financial aid office. This is where the buck stops. You can’t appeal to any other authority if your appeal is rejected. Don’t pester them for an update. They may be backed up with many requests. Avoid using words like negotiate or bargain. Last but not least, thank them for taking the time to consider your appeal.
Compare Your Offer Letters Before Accepting
Before you fully commit to a certain school, be sure that you compare multiple offer letters to see which school is willing to give you the most bang for your buck. College Raptor makes comparisons simple and easy with our free Offer Letter Comparison tool! Check out how much aid a school plans to give, what your debt might be after graduation, and more.